Zhang Zi Yi is a Chinese film actress and model. With a string of Chinese and international hits to her name, she has worked with renowned directors such as Zhang Yimou, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-wai, Chen Kaige, Tsui Hark, Lou Ye, Seijun Suzuki, Feng Xiaogang and Rob Marshall. She achieved wider fame in the West after starring in major roles for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Rush Hour 2 (2001), House of Flying Daggers (2004), and Memoirs of a Geisha (2005).
Zhang began studying dance at the age of 8 , at the Beijing Dance Academy. By the age of 15, she won the National Youth Dance Championship and also began appearing in TV commercials in both China and Hong Kong. At the young age of 17 years old she was accepted and began studying at the prestigious Central Academy of Drama in Beijing. While still a student there, she was offered her first role by director Zhang Yimou in his film The Road Home, which won the Silver Bear prize at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival. Due to her early success, she is coined by the media as one of the “Four Young Dan” actresses in the film industry in China, along with Zhao Wei, Xu Jinglei, and Zhou Xun.
Zhang Ziyi has been nominated for numerous awards throughout her career, including three BAFTA Award nominations and a Golden Globe Award nomination. In 2008, she was awarded with the Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Cinema Award at the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival. In 2013, she received the French Cultural Order at the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.